by DuAnn Cowart
Standard disclaimers apply...
All feedback is appreciated.
She paced in front of the mirror in her room, studying her reflection from different angles. The carefully applied latex makeup concealed her facial birthmark and matched her albino skin tone so well that if she hadn't lived with the plum colored oval around her left eye all of her life, she wouldn't even have known it existed. Satisfied with the disguise, she delicately applied 'normal' makeup next, covering all visible parts of her body with an apricot tinted acrylic-based foundation (purchased from the same company which produced the latex concealer). Conventional makeup came next- instead of her usual vivid lipstick and heavy mascara she opted for neutral shades. Now for the costume, she grimaced.
She opened her cramped closet doors. Knowing Pete, they'd meet in a bar, probably the Crown, so she wanted to appear as inconspicuous as possible. She'd probably be recognized anyway (she still had quite a few contacts in British intelligence and more than a few European enemies left over from her mercenary days) but the demure makeup and the boring (if well made) beige linen business suit she pulled from a dark corner of the closet went a long way towards disguising her true identity.
She stuck her tongue out at her reflection in the mirror as she pulled her hair into a sleek chignon and slipped on a strand of pearls and matching stud earrings. I look like a freakin' ninetofiver, she groused, but I guess that's the point. The outfit, the hairstyle, the jewelry all fit the part of a typical executive going out for a few drinks after work. The woman she saw in the mirror was a far cry from one of the most wanted people on the planet. She allowed herself a small smile of anticipation. After everything that's happened this week, it'll be good to get back to work.
After hastily throwing her usual casual clothing (and several uniforms) into a well-worn suitcase, she stepped into a pair of high-heeled pumps. I hate these damn things, she muttered. At least my boots have a little support. I'm gonna topple right over in these things if I'm not careful. She stepped into them anyway.
Her peripheral vision caught a glance at the time on the clock beside her bed and she swore under her breath. She opened her top dresser drawer and pulled out a handful of concussion grenades and tossed them in the suitcase. Crouching, she reached under the bed and retrieved her favorite plasma rifle and gently laid it atop the mass of crumpled clothing and zipped the now bulging suitcase up. Almost as an afterthought, she grabbed two Glocks from the same top drawer and stuck one in her her waistband and the other in the dusty expensive-looking leather purse that had hung with the suit. Nate'll have the big stuff on the plane if we need it, she reassured herself, feeling very uncomfortable that she was going into any unknown situation without serious hardware. Pete, old buddy, I trust you, but this'd better be good.
Before closing the drawer, she took a large bottle of perfume and doused herself liberally with it, nose wrinkling at the spicy smell. Ah, this is disgusting. Not my style at all. Terry's father had given her the expensive perfume for her birthday earlier that year, but claiming allergies, she'd passed it on to Domino instead. She knew the truth- the scent was unlike anything Teresa would ever consider wearing. We agree on that one, she choked. The smell, nonetheless, seemed vaguely familiar. Emma must have bought this, she realized. This is her cologne. Hmmmm....doing his shopping for him- or getting her shoppers to do his, too? The last time she'd lectured over there she had noticed that the two hadn't been arguing as much. Wonder what Terry thinks about that?
Taking a deep breath, cleared her mind and began working herself into the proper mindset for the job (not an easy feat, given the situation). Neither she nor Pete could afford any distractions at this point. If the matter were important enough to fly halfway across the world for, it was important enough to give her full attention to it. She hoisted the heavy suitcase easily and locked the door to her room. The stiletto heels clicked efficiently against the cold tile of the hallway as she strode down the corridor toward the winding staircase. She exited the stairwell into the elegant main foyer and to her vast amusment passed Rictor and Sunspot passing through in heated debate over a long ago soccer game.
"You're crazy as hell, man. They didn't win that match- I don't know what you're sellin' or smokin', but I know we won that one!"
"I told you, you're wrong! I remember that series, because Juliana and I watched it at my father's..." Bobby's voice trailed off as he noticed Domino standing in the corner near the stairwell. He nudged Rictor silently.
Rictor was confused at his friend's sudden silence. "Bobby, man, what's wron...oh." His jaw dropped open. Issat....nah....yeah, it is her! He raised an eyebrow and said tentatively "uh...Dom, 'zat you?"
She rolled her eyes and continued walking. "Yep. I gotta go, Ric. As much as I'd enjoy chatting with you two, I've got to run. Now you two be good little boys while I'm gone- Terry's in charge. Treat her orders like you would mine- hell, scratch that- just do what she says. I don't know when we'll be back, but I'll give you a call tonight and let you know a rough estimate." Neither man spoke. She slowed down and finally stopped, then walked back towards where the two stood gaping."Well?"
Roberto broke himself out of his reverie "Sorry, Domino- forgive Ric's rudeness." He bowed gracefully "You look lovely, as usual." She snorted in amusement but said nothing.
Rictor growled under his breath at his friend. "Yeah, go on, have a fiesta. We'll be fine," he reassured his dubious commander.
Roberto eyed her curiously. He'd heard that Cable and Domino were going on a mission, but that usually just entailed guns, guns, illegal breaking and entering and guns. This looked to be far more interesting. "So, who's going on this little jaunt- just you and Cable? Where're you going?"
She shook her head "Good try, DaCosta, but none of your business. We'll give you a call to check on things later, but right now I've gotta go, I'm running..." she glanced at the antique grandfather clock by the wall "Shit, I'm already late. Gotta go." Lifting the suitcase, she pivoted and turned back down the long hall towards the hangar bay.
Rictor and Roberto watched her leave, then stared at each other in amazement. Roberto spoke first. "What th' hell was that all about? Domino looked...almost innocent," a term he'd never associated with her before.
Rictor just shrugged. "Who knows, man? Around here, who can tell? Shit, Dom in a dress- and a plain one at that? I can't handle all this weirdness." He pulled indelicately at his bright purple and gold spandex uniform, the one that had the tendency to ride up in the most uncomfortable places. Dammit, he grumbled I miss my green one with the fringes.
The hangar bay was empty, so she walked straight up the extended ramp into the plane. Betsy sat in one of the comfortable reclining chairs in the 'passenger section', really just the back area of the plane. She was flipping through a thick fashion magazine but looked up at Domino's entrance. She noted the other woman's cover and nodded. Good. We're going to at least make an attempt at subtlety.
Betsy had disguised herself as well, though not to the extent Domino had. Hopefully they'd spend one night in London while Domino ran down Wisdom, stop by Muir Island to visit Brian and Excalibur in the morning, and be home by dinner tommorrow. She understood why Wisdom had wanted to meet in London instead of at the isolated privacy of Muir- after years of living communally with the X-men she knew exactly how difficult it was to keep secret meetings secret. Though she wasn't privy to the details, she understood that whatever message was so dire that it required face to face discussion most definately should not be gossip fodder for either Excalibur or the X-men. She knew they believed her vision but she also knew that the real reason she and Logan had been accepted on this trip as easily as they had been was because both knew the importance of discretion.
Logan lay on one of the wide benches lining the wall, battered leather cowboy hat shading his eyes. A thin stream of smoke from a lit cigar clenched tightly between his teeth wafted into the air. Both he and Betsy wore casual clothing, though Domino could see the purple strap of Betsy's uniform, such as it was, peeking out from under the wide neckline of her sweater.
"Hello, Domino. The plane's ready- Cable just finished the pre-flight check- all clear. We're ready to go." Psylocke's tone was calm and professional. When Nate had told her last night about Psylocke's vision and her and Logan's plans to join them, Domino had not been happy. Now, though, after observing their cool readiness she was increasingly grateful for the backup. Especially with Pete's gift for opening up real nasty cans of worms. She remembered New Delhi and shuddered.
Psylocke looked at her intently. "Accomodations have been made, I presume?"
Domino nodded "Yeah- I called the St.Martin's last night. Told them I didn't know how long we'd be staying, but we've got rooms reserved for as long as we need them." From under the hat, Logan grunted his approval.
The St.Martin's, owned and operated by a former British intelligence officer, was a favorite among those on both sides of the field. Besides the luxury accomodations, patrons were also protected by bullet proof windows and walls, guaranteed bug-free rooms, and a security system that almost rivaled Xavier's. Normal guests were oblivious to all of these added amenities, of course, but those who knew about it valued the services and were more than willing to pay for them.
We very easily could have just stayed at my London flat, Betsy considered. She almost offered anyway, but decided against it. Domino apparantly had things well under control. Betsy was pleased to note that the other woman's thoughts seemed controled and rational- the trauma of the last few days seemed to have had no lasting effects other than fatigue.
She began seriously considering the mission- Cable had shared very little other than the fact that Pete Wisdom had information for Domino and would only divulge it in person. A quick surface scan of her thoughts showed that that was all any of them knew. Betsy frowned- her precognitive vision hadn't shown her specific details, only warned her of the potential dangers if she didn't go. A cursory examination of the PACRAT reassured her, but only slightly. She still didn't like going into a potentially dangerous situation without a detailed plan, no matter how well armed they were.
Thinking of London caused her to get just a little nostalgic, and she began thinking of the carefree days she'd spent as a wealthy young British model. She'd shrewdly parlayed her modest Braddock inheritance into quite a fortune (with the help of her telepathy and precognition, of course), and was very much an active part of London's nightlife. With a start that she was not the only person of means aboard. From what she understood, Domino's financial resources far exceeded her own, and Logan's investments with Landau, Luckman and Lake had certainly paid off very well indeed. What about Cable? she wondered. From the monies he'd made using his knowledge of the present 'past' he'd amassed a considerable fortune. Between the four of them they could probably buy a small county, she chuckled.
Betsy lapsed into silence. After a few moments, Logan stirred. He removed his hat, squinting at the bright halogen light directly above him. Sitting up, he examined Domino critically. "New look for ya, huh, Neena?" He chuckled "Don't suit ya at all." Placing the hat so the brim shaded his eyes from the overhead lights, he rasped "Nice work, though. If I didn't know ya so well, I might be fooled. Ya even smell a little bit different."
That's because I'm wearing this hideous perfume, she thought sourly. "Good- glad I pass muster. Now- where's Nate? I'm ready to get this party started. This damn suit chafes." She tugged at it and sat in the other recliner beside Psylocke. Good thing this plane can make the trip so quickly- I didn't want to change in here and let them to see me do the makeup, but I sure as hell don't want to wear this stupid getup any longer than I have to.
Betsy laid the magazine aside and glanced at Logan. Do you want to handle this one or should I? she asked him mentally. He closed his eyes and took another puff of his cigar. You handle it, darlin', I don't think I wanna get involved in this one any more than I gotta be. Psylocke shrugged and answered.
"He's taking care of some last minute business," Betsy replied. Bloody last minute indeed. He should've had the balls to tell Ororo last night and not just call her from London as he was so obviously planning to do. No damn wonder she's been as irritable as she's been lately. If Warren behaved like that... Psylocke snorted in disgust. I should just leave him to his fate, but they both deserve better than him. She remembered his gentleness in the medlab with the traumatized Domino and her face softened slightly. Oh, well- it's not for me to decide. Would that it were.
She thought of the look on Ororo's face right before Domino had walked up. About five minutes before scheduled take off, Storm had walked into the hangar bay and oh so politely asked for a few minutes of Cable's time. Psylocke shook her head knowingly Perhaps he'll be hoist on his own petard after all.
To Be Continued...
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I
do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be
troubled and do not be afraid.
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